Do you think that Charlie Sheen’s condition as he rants against Warner Bros. TV and producer Chuck Lorre over radio, TV and internet makes the $100 million wrongful termination lawsuits his attorneys have filed into a lost cause? Think again.
Leading entertainment litigator Mitchell Langberg notes that there is more to Sheen’s case than is apparent at first blush. “In my experience, the studios in these employment things are at least mostly wrong. You have artists who are artists, and studios that are businesses. When something happens to make it personal on the business side, then it devolves into all kinds of issues.”
Langberg’s firm, Brownstein/Hyatt/Farber/Schreck, has represented stars and companies through the years, so he’s well versed in both sides of cases involving high-profile entertainment firings. The company represented Aaron Spelling back when Farrah Fawcett quit “Charlie’s Angels” — as well as Valerie Harper, back when she was fired from her own series.
” In this case, you have a studio that knew about it,” he says, referring to Sheen’s drug-fueled carousing. “They even renegotiated with him after it was happening. They can point to their morals clause or their felony clause, but it would appear that as long as the ratings were high and the money was rolling in, his behavior was acceptable to them.
“Now, it could be that it got so out of control it got to be a danger and was starting to effect the show,” continues Langberg. “I’ve read the 11-page termination letter, where they talk about his missing his marks and leaning against things and such. It could be that, or it could be that it got real personal. The timing of when he was first suspended from the show was two days after Charlie made his first public comments against Chuck Lorre,” notes the attorney, referring to the “Two and a Half Men” creator/producer that Sheen termed “a clown” and “Chaim Levine.”
Langberg points out that reports of Sheen’s wild behavior are nothing new. He’s “been on Howard Stern’s show and other shows making comments about prostitutes and drugs before now. Did they weigh their morals clauses then? What changed? That is what the case is going to turn on — whether or not they can prove that something different was effecting his peformance, or the safety of his performance happening.”
What happens if Charlie gets 5150’ed? “If the family gets him committed, even temporarily, it will confirm what seems readily apparant to anybody who watches the internet or television. And maybe it will make it more pursuasive for the studio,” Langberg observes.
“I remember sometime in the late ’90s, when Charlie first publicly had these problems. Martin made it ovious he would do whatever it took to save his son,” adds Langberg, referring to comments the elder Sheen made to reporters as Charlie recovered from a 1998 drug overdose — “whatever he’s able to do.”